lorries queue traffic

Queues are over 50km on the German-Poland border

Border restrictions imposed by some EU countries are disrupting food supplies and could lead to future labour shortages, food industry representatives have warned.

More than a dozen EU countries have introduced border controls to try and stem the spread of coronavirus.

European transport ministers agreed on Wednesday to support ‘green lane’ freight routes to ensure food is not hindered by frictions at national borders, although there was no agreement to reopen borders.

But the food industry said the steps were not enough.

Although it will ”help to to ensure our continued access to essential just-in-time deliveries of EU ingredients and finished products,” said Dominic Goudie, head of international trade at FDF, ”what is less clear is what this means for movements of a range of other essential goods that UK producers need, including packaging, labelling inks, cleaning products and personal protective equipment.” 

Some of the longest queues are at the Italian-French border where vehicles are stretched for over five miles, according to logistics visibility platform Sixfold.

“Delays and disruption at country borders have been observed for the delivery of certain agricultural and manufactured products as well as packaging materials,” said a statement from EU trade associations representing the food and drink industry on Thursday.

“We welcome the recent Commission guidelines on border management as a good first step,” it said, but “despite these guidelines…we continue to face severe disruptions.”

Announcing the introduction of ‘green lanes’ yesterday, Petre De Sutter, chair of the EU’s Internal Market Committee, said countries must work to ease the flow of foods across borders to prevent the situation deteriorating.

“Guaranteeing the unobstructed transport of essential goods such as food…ensures that this crisis will not turn into a catastrophe,” she said.

“We have to find ways to keep our transport systems going and to reduce queues to save time and money.”